I’m a little late to the review party, but I had a busy day yesterday cleaning up garbage from a dirty packed out theater auditorium of kids, so SHUT UP!!! There was enough vomit to cover an entire table. I know it’s gross!
Anyway, this past Sunday’s, The Walking Dead pinned our ban of survivors on their last licks. It has been three weeks since the incident in Atlanta following Beth’s demise and possibly a few days after they buried Tyreese. Basically, everyone is losing hope. There is no evidence of a cure, but they’re still heading to D.C. Along a road surrounded by thick tree bush and the summer blistering heat, they have only 60 miles to go. Will they make it? And who will survive? Desperation doesn’t sound more correct.
This episode titled, “Them” finally covered Maggie’s grief for her sister as well as shedding light on Daryl and Sasha’s reaction to the recent deaths (Beth and Tyreese). They’re a family now and so when anyone dies it is a major shot to their spirits and mental well being. If the flesh eating corpses, cannibalistic humans or other untrustworthy people weren’t enough in this tough apocalyptic terrain, then starvation, thirst, and depression could be another killer. And on this episode, the group is gradually dying of all three.
A scene opens up to Maggie searching in the greenish woods for any supplies as she falls on her knees and begins sobbing. She is finally coming to terms of the realism that Beth is gone. We quickly see Sasha who just lost her brother, but who also seems to be acting extremely level-headed and blunt. Daryl and Sasha find Maggie in the thick foliage while standing over muddy ground. Daryl lets the two girls know there’s nothing since he’s a master tracker. Sasha and Maggie follow Daryl out of the brush and onto a bare tarred road as we see the rest of the survivors resting their backs against a van looking tired. As Sasha approaches the van, Noah tells her that he knew Tyreese towards the end. Noah also reveals that he doesn’t think he’s going to make it. Is that foreshadowing? Possibly. Sasha coldly replies, “if you say you’re not going to survive, than you’re not going to make it.”
Not too long after driving, the car runs out of fuel as the survivors get out and are forced to continue down the road on foot. We see everyone looking gloomy, exhausted, and hungry. Glenn finds a pink music box he found and hands it to Maggie. Unfortunately, the mechanism is not working. Normally, the dancing ballerina would be spinning in a circle. Father Gabriel who relieved his black suit jacket someplace off screen, attempts to reside in Maggie. Gabriel tries giving her some reassurance through faith. The whole, “god had a plan for all of us,” crap. Instead of taking the advice, Maggie totally owns Gabriel. She calls him out on being a coward for the better part of a year and a half, where he hid in his cozy church while his church congregation screamed aloud from being torn apart. Gabriel shuts his mouth pretty quickly. Maggie sure put him in his place after also admitting that she once was religious when she was raised by her father. As she walks away Gabriel utters, “punish me father,” as in God.
Towards the front of the pack, Judith is attached to Rick by the chest as Daryl walks beside him. Rick assures Daryl that they will make it to D.C. Rick seems to be the only one who is keeping hope alive. Daryl tells Rick they need to find water and they’re going to have to find food for the baby. Could Daryl be submitting back to his older ways?
Daryl tells Rick he will step off into the woods in search of food and water. When Carol asks to join him, Daryl doesn’t say anything. Carol follows him anyway. Abraham at the back is taking sips of what they have left in their stash, no food, but plenty of booze. Abraham offers some to a focused Sasha as she ignores him. His facial expressions show, “alright, if not, more for me than.”
During the walk, they find a group of abandoned cars parked off the side of the road. Maggie searches through one sedan when she finds the car keys in the ignition. Maggie opens the trunk door as she notices a female walker in fetal position bound by her ankles and mouth with string. Maggie looks at the kidnapped walker for a solid minute until pushing the trunk down. Maggie then decides to try and reopen the trunk with the key, but is unable to. Glenn sees Maggie struggling and comes to her aid. When Maggie hands the keys to Glenn he opens the trunk and sees the trapped walker. He decides to end her life and give it mercy.
In the woods within a clearing, Carol catches up to Daryl. Daryl seems to be emotionally distant. Carol tells Daryl that “she” as in Beth, saved them both. Meaning that Beth saved her at the hospital after she got hit by the car in Atlanta and Beth made Daryl feel like a normal human being. Carol then mentions to Daryl that she is always there for him as she gives him a kiss on his forehead. I could just hear all the fan fiction people going crazy.
Before Carol returns to the flock we see a long silhouette screen shot of all the survivors walking as if they’ve been treading along a desert for centuries, with Rick leading them as the chosen one as mankind’s somewhat “messiah”. Rick with his thick beard looks like Moses as he walks with his people like the Exodus and where Mount Sinai is like the Capitol, their eventual goal.
The fifteen total survivors now consist of: wilderness man Rick, Carl holding Judith, Carol returning, Michonne, grieving Maggie, soldier Sasha, drunken Abraham, Glenn, Rosita, Tara, Eugene, Noah, outcast Gabriel, and Daryl tracking in the trees nearby. Behind them in the long line are a growing group of walkers. Could it turn into a herd?
Daryl rejoins them and tells Rick he found nothing again. When the group comes upon a small bridge up ahead, Rick thinks of a quick plan. They align themselves close to the edges of the bridge in formation. Each survivor waits for a walker to get close as they dodge out of the way only to make them fall off a cliff, starting with Rick. They’re out of ammo, Michonne’s sword is getting brittle and they’re out of energy to fight. This plan goes accordingly until Sasha stabs one walker through the brain. This causes Sasha to lose her balance and almost brings everyone down. Michonne next to Sasha on line pushes Sasha away as she wrestles a few walkers off the cliff while decapitating the rest. They manage to pick off the remaining walkers nearby with the skin of their teeth. Not very smart Sasha.
More walking ensues as it becomes apparent that they may pass out at any time. Up in the sky, Rick clearly sees dark gray menacing clouds. Eugene randomly states that there is a dampness in the air, hinting to a rain shower. Rick addresses that they could use rain to filter out water.
Suddenly, Rick stops as he sees in the middle of the road a group of Dasani water bottles (product placement, I’m surprised they didn’t go with Poland Spring) evenly stacked along with a cardboard and black marker painted sign reading, “For a friend”. The group circles the bottles and immediately see it as a threat. Rick tells everyone that he knows there’s water, but they can’t drink it. How are you supposed to trust something like that now, it could be a trap. Daryl goes off again into the woods to trace steps and to eventually double back. Maybe there is another group nearby who could possibly be dangerous. You can never be comfortable in this world again. Eugene insists on taking the bait. He ignorantly decides to grab a water bottle until Abraham smacks it out of his hand without saying a word. The group walks a bit ahead, avoiding the potential water bottle trap.
Daryl looks for prints in the mud as he treads through the thick foliage. When he moves his hands out he comes to a path of a clearing and sees a red barn in the distance. Daryl decides to take a little tracking break as he sits and leans against a tree bark. He takes out a cigarette from his leftover pack of Morley’s and lights it up. As he smokes and stares intensely at the barn, he begins to cry. Tears start to cover his cheeks as his face turns red. Daryl cries in agony. He misses Beth. This made me cry. For some reason, whenever Daryl cries, I have to cry and the world joins in with him.
Meanwhile on the road as the group wait to hear from Daryl, they start to hear a rustling coming from the trees opposite them from across the road. A pack of wild black hounds leap out as they begin barking at them ferociously. Rick stares blankly into them as a plan brims in his mind. Before the dogs can make a move, Sasha begins firing from her silencer assault rifle and takes them all out. They all look back at Sasha.
And for any dog lovers out there, don’t worry because the host of Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) announced that none of the dogs were harmed during the filming. And one fun fact: Lauren Cohan who plays Maggie originally was going to have her dog in the shot until that scene was ultimately cut.
After Daryl returns, the group has a large feast of dog meat over the flames. They don’t say anything to each other, they just eat it off the bone like chicken. However, Gabriel takes off his white collar from his black shirt and tosses it in the fire. It seems like Gabriel might be losing his faith.
After the group satisfies themselves with food, they stand up. The sky opens up as water droplets start descending upon them. First food, now water? Looks like things may be looking up. Rick orders everyone to collect pallets of rain in either their hats, backpacks, bags, bottles, etc. Thunder begins to sound off. They all revel and absorb the falling rain on their faces. Eugene tries to swallow some of it. Who knows how long its been since they showered. Daryl then tells the group that he found a barn close by as the droplets begin soaking them from head to toe.
Rick and the others follow Daryl to the barn. Rick, Michonne, Maggie, Sasha, Glenn, and Daryl search through the barn looking to clear it of walkers. When Maggie opens one of the stables, she sees a female walker lying on her stomach as she groans and claws at the air. Based on the items in that area, it appears that this woman was living here before she turned. Maggie hesitates a bit until stabbing her knife through its skull.
The group camps themselves inside the barn while placing a loose chain across the front door latch. Half the group sleeps on one side of the barn while Rick and the rest make a fire pit. As they sit around the fire, Rick gives Daryl, Michonne, Carl, and Sasha some inspiration. However, Michonne says that what they’re doing, lurking from place to place looking for food is “not living”. She said something like that in the last episode too. Rick tells Michonne and the others that the way they’ve been going about things is how they survive and only survive.
“We are, The Walking Dead!” Rick tells everyone.
When I heard that I got chills down by spine because not only is Rick saying the title of the show, but it is also one of the most pinnacle moments in the comic book. Rick refers to them as the walking dead because they’re living/walking versions of the zombie virus. Since everyone is already infected, the fact that they can walk in the world, sets an argument that they’re also dead, but not physically, unlike the rest of the walkers.
Daryl then stands up and disagrees with Rick. “We ain’t them,” he says and repeats as he walks off.
After some time passes, Daryl paces back and forth inside the barn. He hears whistling of a sharp wind moving through the air. When he walks up to the locked gate, he sees through the crack after the lightening flashes, a horde of walkers getting closer to the barn. Daryl immediately presses his hands and then his back onto the doors as a thousand pounds of weight fall upon the structure. Maggie sees Daryl struggling and quickly gets up to help. Daryl and Maggie begin sliding back in the mud. Rick by the fire then sees this and joins in. Everyone else wakes up and helps to keep the doors closed. They all work valiantly together to keep the door locked, fighting for their lives and giving every once of their breath. A violent whirling wind, shocks of light, and groans of the dead encase the remainder of the night.
The next morning, Maggie wakes up to everyone lying on the floor next to the front entrance. The morning sunlight pierces through the slits in the doorway. She then notices Daryl huddling at the far end of the barn. Maggie decides to join him. They both have a moment to each other to think about Beth. Maggie tells Daryl that he was with her through that time.
Daryl replies by saying, “Beth didn’t think it, but she was strong.” Daryl hands Maggie that same pink music box that Glenn found. Maggie opens it. Inside, the ballerina begins dancing. Daryl fixed her music box during the night after they all managed to keep the door from opening.
Maggie then walks over to Sasha and wakes her up. Maggie tells Sasha there is something she wants to show her. When the two women step outside, the entire brigade of walkers from the night before are trapped and impaled by downed or broken tree branches and bark. Looks like there was a nasty storm which inevitable saved them.
Maggie leads Sasha to an area of the woods with a large clearing for many miles. They sit together and watch the sunrise appear on the horizon. An orange semi-circle topples over a purple stripe pattern, just out of a painting. It’s absolutely beautiful.
This is where Maggie and Sasha connect really well. Maggie confines in Sasha that for the longest time she didn’t think Beth was gone, just in some other place. When Beth initially went missing, somewhere underneath Daryl’s words was hope. Maggie regrets not being able to spend Beth’s last waking moments of life with her. Maggie then takes out the music box and opens it to play a magical tune, but the device does not work this time. Maggie laughs as tears fall down her cheeks. Sasha then opens up and says that when she told Noah that he wasn’t going to make it, it was her truly believing that she cannot. Sasha starts crying. Maggie reasons with Sasha that in order for self healing, one must let them feel the emotion in its entirety. They both finally come to the terms of their grief.
Out of nowhere, a random clean cut man jumps out of the trees with his hands raised in the air. Maggie and Sasha immediately raise him at gunpoint. The man reveals himself to be Aaron, someone who claims he can help Rick and their gang. He explains that he would like to speak with the man in charge.
“Is that Rick?” he asks.
He even boldly goes to announce that what he will tell the group will benefit them. How does he know their leaders name? This seems all too suspicious. Aaron wearing a backpack and normal clothing was the same person who left them water bottles earlier on the path. As Maggie and Sasha listen to Aaron’s promises, the music box begins playing as it rests against the log they were just sitting on.
The introduction of Aaron is another exciting addition to the show. In the comic book, Aaron plays on the aspect of trust and that sometimes, you’re better off trusting a complete stranger. However, in the realistic realm of things, Rick and his family are a tight bond that won’t fall for handouts because they see them as death wishes. They’re not willing to take a risk and they’re sure not ready to compromise nor negotiate. They’ve been in the wild too long. I won’t say too much of what occurs in the comic book, just where Aaron will most likely lead them to… Alexandria Safe-Zone, Washington D.C.
This was an amazing episode and one of my personal favorites. I not only enjoyed seeing all of the characters together again, but was amazed by how in depth this episode went with Maggie, Daryl and Sasha. The way they executed the grieving processes were subtle enough as to show the viewers rather than tell us. I can completely relate to how those three characters are feeling. I’ve been there before. You either fall back inside yourself and take long walks like Daryl, observe what everything is going on, even the ugly things like Maggie or completely try to mask the emotion by remaining cold and performing high adrenaline dangerous actions like Sasha. Maggie, Daryl, and Sasha are the three sides of grief. But no matter what, there is always a positive resolution.
Stay tuned for next Sunday when Rick dissects their new visitor, Aaron. He has no idea what is in store for him. I’m more worried about Aaron than Rick and the others. Hopefully, what Aaron promises is actually true. Maybe there is a safe haven among the vast decaying wastelands of this world. Nothing will be determined until we see it broadcast at 9/8 central on AMC.